Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Thursday night that he would consider reappointing members of five boards and commissions who just last week he asked to resign.

“Sure I would,” he told reporters after a town hall at Washington Middle School.

Thus far, the governor said, only one of the 28 members appointed by former Gov. Linda Lingle has submitted a resignation. He did not identify the member, but he said he will be considering the resignation and would talk to the member about the matter.

Abercrombie also said he was not surprised by the resistance to his resignation request, which came in the form of personal letters to each member. As of Thursday, 11 of the 28 have indicated they will not step down.

The governor said he has spoken with other members, stating, “Some people I have, some people I haven’t.”

The governor reiterated that the resignations requests were part of his desire to implement his “New Day” plan for the state, and again likened it to his appointment of a new Board of Education.

“I just think it makes good sense for anybody who comes in to do it,” he said of the request. “As I said, quite candidly for them, this is not a comment on your service anymore than it was for the elected Board of Education. … I just would like that opportunity. As you can see tonight, people are anxious, they are a little bit scared, concerned that we are not going to be able to move on things like housing fast enough. So, I just simply wanted the opportunity to be able to put forward our vision.”

Pushing the New Day

The anxiety the governor was speaking of appeared primarily to refer to questions from two audience members at the town hall.

Rather than wait for Abercrombie spokeswoman Donaly Dela Cruz to filter through questions submitted on note cards, the two individuals stood up and demanded answers on homelessness.

Abercrombie and homelessness coordinator Marc Alexander defended the administration’s 90-day plan to begin eliminating homelessness by putting people into shelters and getting them help.

The issue gave the governor the chance to pitch his “New Day” plan, which he said was not a “campaign gimmick.” While homelessness is not a major issue in the plan, workforce housing is.

As he did as a congressman, the governor said he would work for public-private partnerships to build affordable housing on government lands, including vacant school lands.

He said there were “hundreds if not thousands” of empty housing units waiting to be refurbished. “Mayor Wright was not an anomaly,” he said, referring to the state public housing facility where hot water has recently been restored.

Workforce housing, he said, was tied intrinsically to transportation, education and health. The “essential four services” would benefit from a “billion-dollar plus” program, though he did not provide specifics.

“Why do you think it is I want to gets boards and commissions to reflect what I want to see?” the governor asked, rhetorically. I might even appoint them back if I get the opportunity.”

The governor continued: “We are prepared to change some of the rules and regulations, or do my best to change them,” he said.

Mother-in-Law Passes

As is often the case when the governor has a live microphone, news items emerge.

For example, Abercrombie told the crowd that his mother-in-law passed away. His wife, Nancie Caraway, and their dog was in the audience.

A spokeswoman for the governor later confirmed that Abercrombie and Caraway had a private service for Caraway’s mother this week. Ellen Caraway had been in poor health for some time. Abercrombie had acknowledged his mother-in-law at his inauguration speech, where she sat in the front row.

Referencing sustainable agriculture, he revealed that he and Caraway are growing fruits and vegetables on the grounds of Washington Place.

Announcing that he had recently spoken with Ken Salazar, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Abercrombie said he hoped to have a walking trail along the Kona Coast that would follow the ancient trail walked by King Kamehameha. He might do the same for Kaena Point on Oahu.

Abercrombie also said his administration would name a “health-care transformation coordinator,” something that has been mentioned before.

Lastly, the governor struck a note of humility. Asked what the biggest obstacle was to getting his ambitious plans fulfilled, he responded, “I am the biggest obstacle. … I start with me.”

Abercrombie said he had “shortcomings,” and that he would “subsume them” so that he could be “the river, the catalyst” to move his office into action.

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